My latest in the Washington Examiner.
As the international climate alarmism movement descends on Glasgow, Scotland, for the 26th annual United National climate conference, the world is plunging into its worst energy crisis since the 1970s. And it is the alarmism that has caused the crisis.
Since the world first contracted a serious case of climate alarmism more than 30 years ago, rich countries have rushed headlong into “greening” their electricity generation. It’s been out with the coal and in with the wind and solar, especially in Europe. This has all occurred because of what the head of the Polish ruling party described this week as “some unproved theory.”
This greening has not been without pain. Germans, for example, pay such high prices for electricity, more than twice what Americans pay, that it has been talked about as a “luxury good.” People in New England and California pay 70% more for “green” electricity than people in West Virginia pay for coal-based power. And what has the rush to green produced?
Emissions continue their inexorable rise upward, only slowed once in a while by an economic downturn or, most recently, by the pandemic. You almost don’t even have to argue over the “unproved theory” since, as the U.N. recently described, emissions are going up with “no signs of peaking.”
But now the spam has hit the fan.
European wind energy production has declined this year because wind speeds have been lower. This has meant that the U.K., for example, has had to rely more on natural gas for electricity production, given that it has all but eliminated the use of coal. Higher demand for natural gas across Europe has sent prices skyrocketing, not only in Europe but around the world.
High gas prices mean more lower-cost coal is now being burned to produce electricity in both Europe and the U.S. High gas prices have also caused factories to close in the U.K. And the Northern Hemisphere has not even entered the winter season when the heating needs will push demand even higher. Even coal prices are skyrocketing. Profits in the U.S. coal industry are up 700%.
These developments obviously jeopardize the lurch into “green” energy. So climate alarmists are now saying that the solution is not more fossil fuel use, but more green energy, even though it was the green energy that failed in the first place. If there’s no wind, no amount of wind turbines can rectify that.
As if this is not enough to sink the climate alarmist ship, there are the inconvenient events happening on the other side of the world that climate alarmists try to ignore.
Not that China has ever seriously considered cutting emissions for the sake of climate, but a growing energy crisis there has forced the Chinese government to order maximum production from all coal mines, and China is producing record amounts of coal. Coal demand in India is so high that the fourth largest coal producer is back to importing coal.
While the U.N. climate conference organizers have organized their conference around the principle “consign coal to history,” coal remains king on a global basis for electricity generation.
Past these physical and economic realities are the political ones. It looks as though neither China’s President Xi Jinping nor Russian’s President Vladimir Putin will attend the conference to which President Joe Biden is bringing his entire Cabinet.
China has already rebuffed the U.S. on climate, saying that it will not separate climate from all the other points of contention between it and the U.S. Moreover, China’s primary goal is to be the lone global superpower by 2049. Putin’s dismissive attitude toward climate is most amusingly summarized by Russia’s use of wind turbines to power coal mines and his claim that Russia’s vast grasslands already make it carbon neutral.
In the U.S., Biden’s plan for redesigning the electricity grid to be wind and solar heavy and to federalize the electricity grid to do so is all but dead, with West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin administering it last rites. The same has happened to the dream of a carbon tax. Not that any of this would have mattered anyway as the U.S. is an ever-shrinking part of global emissions. Biden is now being forced to rely on Environmental Protection Agency regulation of climate, which has not had much luck passing legal muster at the Supreme Court.
November is a gloomy time in Scotland, and it will be doubly so for the climate conference attendees as their cause faces its own existential crisis.
Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA”.
October 31, 2021